Introduction to Kayaking

Lesson Topic:


Lesson Description:

This lesson is an introduction to kayaking, safety (PFD's), and strokes needed to maneuver the boat.

Learning Goals/Outcomes:

Students will be able to demonstrate how to put on the PFD, get into and out of the kayak, hold the paddle, and use the proper kayak strokes to maneuver their boat around the water.

Nebraska Standards:

PE.HS.14 Lifetime Activities

PE.HS.14.1 Demonstrates competency in motor skills and movement patterns needed to perform a variety of physical activities.

PE.HS.14.1.a Performs and/or refines activity-specific movement skills in a variety of lifetime activities.

PE.HS.14.2 Applies knowledge of concepts, principles, tactics, and strategies related to movement and performance to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness.

PE.HS.14.2.h Identifies issues associated with performing lifetime activities in heat, humidity, and cold. 

PE.HS.14.2.i Analyzes the benefits, social support network, and participation requirements of lifetime activities that can be pursued in the local environment. 

PE.HS.16 Outdoor Pursuits 

PE.HS.16.1 Demonstrates competency in motor skills and movement patterns needed to perform a variety of physical activities.

PE.HS.16.1.a Performs and/or refines activity specific skills in a variety of outdoor pursuits (e.g., kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing, geocaching, orienteering, camping, hiking, mountain biking, climbing, obstacle course, adventure activities, high elements).

PE.HS.16.2 Applies knowledge of concepts, principles, tactics, and strategies related to movement and performance to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness.

PE.HS.16.2.a Applies terminology associated with participation in selected outdoor pursuits. 

PE.HS.16.2.b Explores and participates in outdoor activities that can be pursued in the local environment. 

PE.HS.16.2.e Identifies issues associated with participating in outdoor pursuits in heat, humidity, and cold. 

PE.HS.16.3 Recognizes the benefits of physical activity and exhibits responsible personal and social behavior in a variety of physical activity settings.

PE.HS.16.3.a Applies best practices for participating safely in outdoor pursuits.

Teacher Planning:

Equipment/Materials Needed:

Projector/Apple TV to show the Paddle Safe Paddle Smart slides prior to getting in the pool

Kayaks (8-10 for pool setting)

PFD's (one for each kayak)

Paddles (one for each kayak)

Pool/Body of Water

Time Required for Lesson:

90 minutes


Technology Use:

__X___ YES               _____NO

Instructional Plan:

Anticipatory Set/Pre-Activity:

Lead students through the Paddle Safe Paddle Smart (PS2) slides that go over water and kayak/canoe safety. The PS2 curriculum is written by the American Canoe Association and you must be certified to get the material. However, they have a brochure (attached below) that goes over the same material as the slides. The teacher could go through the brochure with the students to cover the same material.

REI Expert Advice has excellent articles and videos on Getting Started Kayaking.

Benefits/Explanation/Real-World Connection:

Kayaking is an activity students can participate in now and for the rest of their lives. It's a low impact activity, a great way to explore the outdoors through area lakes and rivers, and a fun way to engage with friends and family. As students learn the basics of kayaking, they will know kayaking terminology, boating safety, and the proper methods to maneuver the boat around the water. Knowing the basic skills will help give the students the confidence they need to continue with this activity beyond the classroom. Stroke technique and boating safety is essential in order for the students to feel confident on the water and able to fully enjoy their boating experience. 

Activities (i.e. instructions, warm-up, lesson, cool-down):

Introduction - After  going over the Paddle Safe Paddle Smart material with a TV/Projector, take the students to the swimming pool. After they change into kayaking clothes in the locker rooms, have students get into groups of three and number off 1, 2, 3. Each group will have their own boat, kayak, and paddle. Number 1 will be the first kayaker, 2 will be the 2nd kayaker, and 3 will be the 3rd kayaker. Next, show the students the kayaking equipment. Show them how to sit in the kayak, and how to get in and out of the kayak. Demonstrate holding the paddle and the proper way to paddle while in the kayak. Demonstrate the proper way to wear a PFD, then have the first group of kayakers (Number 1's) put them on and have their group check to make sure the PFDs are on properly. 

Lesson - Demonstrate how to get into the kayak (with two people helping) from the side of the pool. Once in the kayak, show students how to sit with their knees out to the side like a frog. Demonstrate the forward stroke, backward stroke, forward sweep, backward sweep, and the draw stroke. Explain what each stroke is used for, and emphasis how much of the kayak blade should be in the water when paddling. Remind students to keep their shoulders over their hips while paddling, and do not lean over the side of the boat unless they plan on capsizing. After demonstration, use the draw stroke to get back to the side of the pool and show students how to get out of the boat with help. 

Once back on the pool deck, have each group help their first person into the kayak (sitting in the water), then give them a few minutes to practice the 5 strokes in the pool. After a few minutes, have the students in the boats all come line up in a line at the end of the pool in the shallow end. Have one student lead the rest of the class (follow the leader) around the pool using the 5 strokes they learned. Once they've completed a loop around the pool, have the students find their group and switch from partner 1 to 2. Repeat the same activities 2 more times so each student has the opportunity to practice the strokes. 

When each person had an opportunity to practice the strokes, have each group remove the kayaks from the water and put all their equipment away. 

Optional: If time, I will have each group do a short race to practice their skills. All the boats line up facing the diving boards from the shallow end. The partners who are not in the water help by holding the end of the boat to the pool deck. At GO, students will race forward to the midway point of the pool (where I'm standing on the deck). Once they get to that point, they must paddle backwards back to the starting point. Once there, paddle forward all the way to the end of the pool, turn around (using a forward/backward sweep stroke) and paddle forward back toward the start. Students need to stop and turn sideways at the swimming flag poles, and use the draw stroke to pull themselves back to the starting wall. 

Kayak Race Diagram
Kayaking Race Diagram.pngKayak Race Diagram

Kayak Race Diagram


Ask the students what worked best for them when paddling forward - were they sitting a particular way? How was the blade in the water?

Ask what the best method of braking was in order to stop before hitting the edge of the pool deck.

Ask students why it's important to wear a PFD while kayaking or on boat.

Remind students that we will have more opportunities to practice their paddling skills the rest of the week. Tomorrow we will learn several methods on how to get back into the kayak after capsizing.

Assessment :

Formative: I have a class roster check sheet that allows me to see which students were in the kayaks and practicing the strokes. Students who were absent will be required to demonstrate the strokes. I do this again at the end of the unit (summative) to see that each student is competent in the 5 strokes.

Supplemental Information:


Download: brochure_smartstart.pdf


Safety Precautions:

Remind students to be aware of their surroundings when kayaking so they don't get their kayak paddle too close to other students bodies. 

Do not allow students without a kayak to free swim with the kayakers.

Comments (adaptations for various grades/ages, teaching styles, etc.)

If you are able to borrow kayaks from a community organization, this lesson works great on a lake as well.

If you don't have room for 8-10 kayaks in your pool, use what you have and rotate students more often. 

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